They say “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Whenever I find something that is really close to my work (or even worse work I haven’t yet published) I find myself going through the standard panic that someone else has done something better and that I am falling behind. But after a little while, I calm down and remind myself that if someone else is doing similar work (especially if we were the first to do it) it means that it is a really good idea and I just need to stay ahead of the others. Besides, there is always a way to take a new angle on something to ensure that there is a novel contribution. I’ve gone through this thought cycle many times and it is something that I often have to talk to my students about when they say “that great idea I’ve been working on for the past semester has already been published!”
Since we were the first to demonstrate wirelessly charging remote sensors with a UAV, we are always on the lookout for others who are doing similar work. When Brent emailed me and said “Too much overlap for coincidence?” my first thought was, “its probably a good thing if someone is repeating our experiments and setup.” But then I read the rest of his email and started looking over the article. The most obvious thing is that there are 3 images directly taken from our paper (they were considerate enough to change the captions):
Now, to be clear the figures on the left are from our paper and those on the right are from the other paper (it was hard to import these into the post since the thumbnails look so similar). While the authors did cite our paper, none of these images were cited as coming from our work. I also recognize most of the other images in their paper from other articles, so we certainly weren’t the only ones. In terms of text, here is one example from our paper:
The Rx Board (shown in Fig. 4) consists of a power conversion circuit, a battery charging circuit, a processor to monitor and control operation, inputs for a variety of other sensors, and power outputs for driving or controlling other circuitry.
and they wrote:
The Rx board consists of a processor to monitor and control operation, inputs for a variety of other sensors, and poweroutputs for feeding power to, driving and controlling the desired set of sensor nodes.
So at least they took a little bit of time to rearrange the text. I must admit I haven’t been able to sit down and read the paper from front to back because it makes me think that I am reading a really poor draft of my own paper. But there are many many examples where they copied text with minor changes.
So what to do about the Plagiarism? Well the first thing I did was I contacted the faculty member on the paper, who I was able to find an email address for. I wrote a nice email giving him the benefit of the doubt such that he could just withdraw the paper and we could be done with it. I press send and woops, a email account not found appeared. Hopefully he got fired for plagiarism, but there is still this paper out there. So next step: contact the editors of the journal. Couple weeks later, still no response and the paper is still available online. So what to do next? Write a blog post about it and indicate that the miserable failure of a journal accepts plagiarized articles.
Just to be clear there are many reasons why the “International Journal of Sustainable Development and Green Economics (IJSDGE)” might accept articles that plagiarize other work. Perhaps it was just a lackluster editor, poor peer review, or maybe they don’t review papers at all. But I am certainly skeptical of this journal considering that it has only two published issues, accepts poorly written plagiarized work, and doesn’t respond when I report it. Now I haven’t looked at any of the other papers, so perhaps they are better. But for sure, the paper:
G. Manoj Reddy, Siddarth V R and Dinesh Kumar. “Wireless Power Transmission To Sensors Using Mobile Carrier Hosts,” in the International Journal of Sustainable Development and Green Economics. ISSN No.: 2315-4721, V-2, I-1, 2, 2013.
contains a lot of plagiarism. Was it intentional? I like to think that most people are good and give them the benefit of the doubt. I have no idea about the quality of BVU College of Engineering, (Pune, India) which is where the authors are from. I find that many international students haven’t learned much about plagiarism (although US students may do it just as much), so they may not of thought they were doing anything wrong. It could be that this was a student report on the wireless power literature that somehow got turned into a “journal” article. But regardless, it is still plagiarism and it makes it hard to trust any journal that is not well known, especially considering all the recent high profile cases of plagiarism in top venues.
So if you are considering publishing a paper in IJSDGE I would strongly recommend that you do not. If you are looking to cite a paper on wireless power transfer from a UAV, make sure to cite our paper and not the above paper.